The Right HIIT Ratio (hint: it includes rest time)!

HIIT (high intensity interval training) challenges you with short bursts of high intensity work followed up by ample rest. The work to rest ratio is at the lowest 1:2 and up to a high of around 1:6. Why “so much” rest (quotes to emphasize what we know you’re thinking)? Because without ample rest, there is no way you can push yourself to true max capacity. In real life, many sports specific athletes use higher work to rest ratios than than 1:6. They do this because when you take longer rest you will inevitably be able to perform at a higher intensity for more rounds.

Anything below a 1:2 work to rest ratio is technically not considered HIIT. In that scenario we would just call it interval training. For example, tabatas are a popular form of interval training that are not considered HIIT. And while all forms of interval training can be difficult and burn calories in a time efficient manner, they don’t all produce the same training performance adaptations (fancy fitness words for results). For performance improvements, true HIIT reigns supreme, because with ample rest the human body can express higher levels of anaerobic performance.

(Side rant: High intensity does not refer to how hard something feels. It refers to the level of performance that one is able to work at.)

While sprinting can be an excellent modality for HIIT, it also comes with a higher risk of injury than other common modalities. For example, like a heavy leg day, sprinting can place a large amount of stress on the hamstrings which play a critical role in the eccentric part of a sprint. This is why, at Accelerate, we opt for modalities that allow for lower impact like rowing, biking, battle ropes, skierg and many other exercises/movements.

This is actually why high caliber sprinters do not perform max effort intensity sprint work every single time they train. From a recovery and fatigue management standpoint, it’s just smarter to use other methods of exercise. Though 1-2 days per week involving max effort sprints is likely fine.

And remember, if you don’t recognize your body is fatigued and ignore the warning signals, you immediately increase your own risk of injury.

Here’s a freebie.

Battle Rope HIIT Workout

5 x 15 second snakes or alternating arms

45 seconds rest in between rounds

After the 45 second rest, perform 5 x 10 second power slams

Rest for 50 seconds

Focus on control with explosive speed

(Examples of 1:4 and 1:5 work to rest ratios)

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